Longhorns clean up Waller Creek

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More than 100 students gave up sleeping in late on Saturday morning to pull aluminum cans, plastic bags and discarded clothes out of Waller Creek.

The Environmental Health and Safety Office and the Texas Natural Science Center came together for the biannual Waller Creek Cleanup.

Waller Creek runs from North Austin, through the city and campus, into Lady Bird Lake downtown. Trash from the streets washes down storm drains and into the creek.

Carin Peterson, the event’s coordinator and training and outreach coordinator for the Environmental Health and Safety Office, said the 115 volunteers was an average turnout for the popular event.

“Littering is a big problem in Waller Creek,” Peterson said. “What happens is, it’s not just campus litter that ends up in the creek. Because the creek flows down to Town Lake, we get a lot of trash from beyond campus that comes down.”

The groups of volunteers focused on the portion of the creek that starts at Dean Keeton Street and flows down to MLK Boulevard.

“Littering is a huge problem on campus and our department is [a steward] of the creek and it’s important to keep the creek clean,” Peterson said. “The creek is a place where students, faculty and staff can enjoy themselves and relax. Because it’s part of the larger water system in Austin, we want to help keep it clean.”

Psychology senior Jose Porras has attended the event twice.

“I feel that in my encounters with volunteer activities around the campus, this has been one of the most rewarding and one of the ones where I feel I make the most direct impact on my campus,” Porras said.

He said UT students are not aware about what type of impact littering can have on the environment.

“I feel that you can never have enough awareness or help around the campus — especially one of this size and one with so many students,” Porras said.

According to wallercreek.org, animals like the Great Blue Heron and the Roseate Skimmer dragonfly rely on the creek to survive.

“I care about how UT looks and the environment,” said accounting senior Sara Shih, who attended Saturday’s event. “You always see trash in Waller Creek. It could be so beautiful if we took care of it.”